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Babies' day out
India did well to overcome the tough conditions to finish with a crushing win. It was Dravid who struck the winning runs but the youngsters around him can take heart from a satisfying day out
Gautam Gambhir has often toyed with domestic attacks, similar to the one he faced against Scotland, but he needs to step up against the big boys
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The 2700 odd spectators who landed up for the first one-day international at the Clydesdale Cricket Club didn't see merely a one-sided contest between two teams sporting different shades of blue. They got intermittent showers, glorious sunshine, chilly winds and an air of dampness. They were treated to announcements over the loudspeaker and a varied menu. There were two breaks for rain, there was also a lucky draw. Incidentally, the home side lost.
Those watching also got a glimpse of India's next generation of one-day cricketers. Eight members of this team will take part in the Twenty20 World Championship next month, taking another shot at Scotland in their opening game. Remove Rahul Dravid and you have a side that could carry on till the World Cup in 2011. Injuries and form slumps excepted, this should be the core group.
Gautam Gambhir, for all his entries and exits from the side, is still 25. His one-day debut was four years ago but he has managed no more than 24 ODIs in that period. In international terms he is still crawling, making the most of his chances against teams like Ireland and Scotland. We know he can toy with domestic attacks, similar to the one he faced today, but it's the big boys he needs to take on headlong. This was easy, slapping and dashing with glee and finishing unbeaten, but this must be the springboard from where he rises. He failed in two attempts against South Africa; this series gives him another chance to come of age.
Robin Uthappa, his opening partner, is a baby of the crèche. His prolific domestic season saved him in the post-World Cup clean-up and he blitzed some big shots against the erratic Scottish bowling today but far sterner tests await. Conditions weren't easy here - both openers batted well outside the crease early on in an attempt to negate the swing - and they couldn't get the boundaries early on but they adapted. India's biggest problem over the years has been the failure to adapt to conditions and more exposure is the best way to equip the future generation.
Yuvraj Singh, recently appointed vice-captain of the Twenty20 side, is the senior among the group. Despite sitting through an entire Test series he continued from where he left off at Belfast. The tots, if one is permitted to call them that, showed a renewed vigour in the field. Yuvraj came close to pulling off the catch of the month, flinging himself full-length at point, while RP Singh made some fine saves at cover. However, those in the outfield were run ragged, unable to prevent twos when only one should have been on the cards. Having said that, running around on a damp outfield can't be easy.
The bowling was not up to scratch, as you would expect in an opening game of a tour played out in these conditions. A total of 26 extras was disappointing but one has to consider the blustery conditions throughout. Munaf Patel, returning to the side after three months, struggled to hit the straps but neither the pitch nor the conditions did him too many favours. It was a strange pitch - early seam movement, not too much bounce - and the stiff breeze put bowlers off rhythm. RP Singh was the only steady one throughout and carried on from where he had left off in the Tests.
Piyush Chawla and Ramesh Powar were occasionally tonked around but the constant showers would have had both struggling to grip the ball. India did well to overcome the tough conditions to finish with a crushing win. It was Dravid who struck the winning runs but the youngsters around him can take heart from a satisfying day out.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is assistant editor of Cricinfo